Published: Thu, May 17, 2018
Markets | By Otis Pena

Safety agency to investigate Tesla crash in Utah

Safety agency to investigate Tesla crash in Utah

Now the NHTSA is also announcing that it will investigate the accident, but only for data gathering as a "special crash".

At the time, she told the police that the vehicle was on Autopilot and later admitted that she was on her phone.

According to the data gathered by Tesla and released by South Jordan Police, the driver took her hands off the car's steering wheel more than a dozen times, and, on two occasions, her hands were off the wheel for more than a minute.

In this Friday, May 11, 2018, photo released by the South Jordan Police Department shows a traffic collision involving a Tesla Model S sedan with a Fire Department mechanic truck stopped at a red light in South Jordan, Utah. "Each time she put her hands back on the wheel, she took them back off the wheel after a few seconds". "She did not touch the steering wheel for the next 80 seconds until the crash happened; this is consistent with her admission that she was looking at her phone at the time".

About 1 minute and 22 seconds before the crash, she re-enabled Autosteer and Cruise Control, and then, within two seconds, took her hands off the steering wheel again.

In a statement Wednesday, Tesla said that drivers are repeatedly warned to keep their hands on the wheel and maintain control of their vehicle at all times. After a fatal Tesla Model X crash on Highway 101 in Mountain View in March, Tesla reported that the driver of that auto had been warned repeatedly during the trip to put his hands on the wheel, and that his hands were not detected on the wheel for six seconds before the collision. She manually pressed on the brake just before the crash. This is the speed the driver selected.

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The Autopilot system includes visual and audio warnings to drivers when they remove their hands from the wheel.

Tesla's Autopilot system uses a suit of cameras and radar providing a 360 degree view around the vehicle and automatically keeps the auto centered in the lane and a safe distance from other vehicles. South Jordan police reiterated that drivers of semi-autonomous vehicles must remain alert and in control of the vehicle at all times. She was issued a traffic infraction for failing to keep proper lookout.

The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration confirmed Wednesday that it has sent a team of special crash investigators to look into a Tesla Model S that plowed into a fire department vehicle in Utah while its semi-autonomous driving system Autopilot was engaged.

Musk complained in a recent earnings call that accidents involving self-driving cars get sensational headlines while the potential for the technology to save lives is downplayed or ignored.

It's unclear if that system activated before the Utah crash. "Based upon witness information, the driver of the Tesla did not brake or take any action to avoid the collision", a statement from South Jordan Police said. The rating was somewhat expected because all the three vehicles boast the same active safety features - including Automatic Emergency Braking - powered by the Autopilot system.

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